Representatives from the U.N. missions in Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone met in Senegal in a bid to strengthen their cross-border operations.

The meeting has been organized to implement suggestions made last month in New York by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He emphasized the importance of taking a regional approach to West Africa, which has suffered from decades of civil wars.

One of the issues on the table at the talks in Senegal was how to go about coordinating U.N. operations in the region.

An analyst with International Crisis Group, Stephen Ellis, says a regional approach in West Africa is something his organization has been advocating for months.

?The three U.N. missions that exist in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire do their best inasmuch as they try to communicate with each other,? Mr. Ellis said. ?But if you were ultimately going to improve coordination between the three, you would have some sort of supreme command of all three missions.?

The U.N. special envoy to Ivory Coast, Albert Tevoedjre, says controlling the border areas is important for maintaining stability in the region.

?Well, we hope to continue to have a joint approach of our work on disarmament, on small arms trafficking and making sure that the borders are secure. It is very important,? he said.

The representatives are also examining the possibility of so-called hot pursuit cross-border operations, which would allow peacekeepers from one nation to cross the borders into another country. The meeting is a precursor to one Friday that will be headed by the U.N. special representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah.

Friday's meeting is also to include representatives from the Economic Community of West African States and other country representatives.